1. Is fatigue going to play a factor in the series? Or will the Nets tough play lead to more momentum?
Net Income: Doubt fatigue is going to play that big a role. As for momentum , The Nets won two straight games --and came back big time in game before. Also, Nets are 3rd oldest team in NBA; Heat are oldest.
Tom Lorenzo: I do not see fatigue being much of a factor. Jason Kidd does done a fine job of limiting minutes throughout the season and in the first round of the playoffs for this reason. Of course, there is some mileage on these Nets vets, but I would much rather them play with momentum heading into this series over too much rest.
Reed Wallach: This team is so deep and has so many veterans that I don't think fatigue will play that much of an issue. The minutes have been split up pretty evenly to where guys can be fresh for the length of the series. I think the fact that they played two great games this weekend is more important. If anything, I think sitting for a week hurts more then getting in highly competitive games.
Brian Fleurantin: I think fatigue will play itself out only during Game one. The trip from Brooklyn to Toronto to Miami in a short span is hectic on its own, and its effect is even more pronounced when you're playing intense games like the Nets were. Add to this the fact that the Heat have been resting up for about a week so they'll be coming into Game One with a huge advantage in that regard. As the series goes on, the Nets will be fine and they'll adjust accordingly, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Nets got blown out in Game one.
Anthony Puccio: I don't think so. The Nets really picked up their play towards the end of the series. I think they're riding a high momentum heading into Miami for game one.
Dexter Henry: Fatigue will be a factor here in this second round matchup. The Nets just finished a long series while the Heat have been resting after a four game sweep of the Bobcats. Where fatigue can exactly be a factor is if Miami is consistently able to dictate the tempo and get out in transition and score easy baskets. If that happens the older Nets who just finished a 7 game series will struggle therefore it is imperative that Brooklyn dictates the style of play.
Larry Fleisher: Fatigue might play a role but since the first-round series was so spread out, it's very possible that it might not. For example, Kevin Garnett looked very fresh in the final two games after playing 12 minutes in Game Five. The Heat have been off for over a week since sweeping Charlotte and even with their hard practices, they might be somewhat rusty. Last year the Heat had a similar break before facing the Bulls and lost Game 1 before winning the next four. This year the Nets present an opponent that has more firepower and depth on offense than what the Bulls have.
Ghoti: There is plenty of time between games and the Nets are deep, so I don't see fatigue being a major factor. If either team is affected more, I think it will be the Heat, who aren't quite as deep and have played more basketball over the last three years than anyone.
2. How should the Nets go about stopping LeBron James?
NI: The better question is how do they stop BOSH. If I'm Erik Spoelstra, I push Bosh. Pierce is going to have his hands full with Bosh. LeBron is LeBron.
TL: Throw different bodies at him. Between Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, Joe Johnson and Alan Anderson, I think you can switch off throwing different bodies -- with different skill sets on defense -- at LBJ. It's not as if they have to "shut him down," but make him work, of course, and force him to take as many long jumpers as possible. Again, it's not about stopping LeBron, it's about raising his inefficiency rates.
RW: The Nets should double LeBron when he drives—which may end up playing right into the Heat's hand—and initiate contact. Otherwise, he's basically impossible stop. Might as well let him get his 30 points or so and worry more about Wade and Bosh.
BF: Hmm, I'm not sure if they can. What they can do is double him every time he's in the post and hope that Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers & the rest of the Heat are cold from three point range. When he's on the perimeter, play off of him and hopes he's not connecting on his jumpers. This is obviously a risky strategy because James is a better jump shooter than he's given credit for and Miami was one of the better three point shooting teams in the league this year (albeit, a bit worse than last season). Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
AP: It's almost impossible to 'stop' LeBron, but they can definitely contain him the way they did during the regular season. Similar to how they defended DeMar DeRozan, I think the Nets will come with hard double teams and a ton of help defense, trying to force the ball out of his hands.
DH: There is no way to stop LeBron James....you can only hope to contain him. What the Nets should do against Lebron is send various defenders at him. Andrei Kirlenko could be a very key defender in this series and Brooklyn has to use long athletic defenders against James in order to frustrate him. If the Nets can keep James out of the pain and turn him into a jump shooter then I will consider that a great job against the best player in the game defensively.
LF: You won't actually "stop" him but what they can do is front him with multiple looks, contest anything he does and just annoy him like they did in the 104-95 double overtime win in January. Just stay in front of him and trail him at every possession and hope for the best.
G: You can't stop LeBron James. The best thing to do is stop everyone else and make LeBron do the heavy lifting.
3. Does the regular season sweep of the Heat have anything to do with the playoffs?
NI: It will give the Heat more motivation going into the series. But if Nets. "steal" one of the two games in Miami, it could get the Heat thinking...
TL: No it does not. I actually wrote about this already. Essentially, I said that the Nets can use it as a bit of a confidence builder, but aside from that, you can throw the regular season sweep out the window. All four games were essentially a coin flip.
RW: No. Playoffs are completely different. It adds to the storyline, but nothing more.
BF: Nope. Every year, there's a team that plays the Heat tough in the regular season and then we hear "they're the team that'll beat Miami" once the playoffs start. In 2011, it was Chicago and they lost. In 2012, it was Boston and they lost. Last year, it was Indiana and they lost. With the Heat, I don't think we gain all that much insight into what they'll do in the playoffs by focusing on what they did or didn't do in the regular season. This isn't to say they don't care about the regular season, but they aren't a team like the Pacers that will throw everything they have into the 82 game schedule and panic once things start to get difficult.
AP: Yes and no. Yes because, well, clearly the Nets can beat them. They match up well with the Heat style of play, and there's no reason they shouldn't be able to beat them another four times. On the other side, LeBron James and playoffs in the same sentence is a totally different ball game. If the Nets struggle the way they did early in the Raptors' series, the regular season success will quickly be forgotten.
DH: Absolutely it does. The Nets players will try to downplay the regular season sweep and so will the Miami players but I do think it has something to do with the psyche of both teams. I totally understand that its 0-0 now for both teams heading into this series but when you are a playoff/championship contender you can't tell me that you do not get up for games against other top teams during the regular season. Miami knows the Nets can beat them in close games and each of the four games this season were thrillers in which we saw Brooklyn execute well down the stretch. Those games proved that the Nets have no fear of Miami and the Heat are well aware of that. Therefore those four regular season games put the Heat on notice that a series against the Nets will not be a walk in the park.
LF: These things are interesting to talk about but often don't reflect into the postseason, especially in other sports. For example the 1988 Mets won 10 out of 10 against the Dodgers and we know how that ended. Plus the Heat have had a few weeks to not only get through a first-round series but possibly make the necessary adjustments.
4. Who is the X-factor of the series?
NI: Kevin Garnett. Kidd is playing him more , despite his claims he wouldn't. Can KG help contain Bosh AND be the emotional leader he was in Boston.
TL: Deron Williams, as always. He played terribly in two of the four games against the Heat in the regular season and missed one of the four. I have confidence in Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett showing up in this series, but again it's Deron Williams who is the wildcard. If they want to win this series and not rely on a coin flip to decide it, Williams needs to play at a near All-Star level.
RW: Shaun Livingston. Livingston may be coming off the bench or starting, but his length can pose a big problem for Miami. Unlike Toronto, the Heat do not have a lengthy backcourt and Livingston is going to be much more comfortable taking his patent 12-footers. Livingston is also going to be assigned to LeBron sometimes and must use his length to cause problems like he did in the regular season.
BF: I'll go with Mirza Teletovic.He played well against Miami this year, is a good enough rebounder & has enough size to pester LeBron when he's in the post. I picked him for this last round, but he didn't really get to do it, but with LeBron and #BigshotBosh on the other side, I think he'll see some more minutes.
AP: It's Andrei Kirilenko's time to step up. The offense will be there, but it's the defense that needs to come alive. In the past, Kirilenko's had some success covering LeBron. You can be sure he will have the assignment of sticking on LeBron for a good amount of time this series.
DH: The X-Factor of this series as it will be for any series thus far in the playoffs for Brooklyn is Deron Williams. D-Will is going up against Mario Chalmers and has to get it done. No disrespect to Chalmers but Williams HAS to dominate that matchup every night. Kyle Lowry was a tough matchup and in the games D-Will played well against Toronto the Nets also played well however in this round Brooklyn has a edge in talent at the point guard position. Therefore it is imperative that their franchise player plays like one if the Nets are to advance to the Conference Finals.
LF: You hate to pick on him, but Deron Williams. We saw all the good that happens when he scores over 20 points and is aggressive being what the players like to say is the head of the snake. To win this series, Williams has to perform similar if not better than he did in his three 20-point games against the Raptors.
G: Father time.
5. Shaun Livingston has played well against the Heat this season and gives the Nets a huge size advantage; should Livingston be inserted back into the starting lineup over Alan Anderson?
NI: Don't think it matters much. Anderson and Livingston bring different things to game. Anderson showed he can defend, rebound and hit the three. Could be needed vs Wade.
TL: I would keep Alan Anderson in the starting lineup, mainly because I do like the looks that Livingston gave the Nets at the point with the second unit. Plus, I like the idea of having Anderson hound Wade defensively.
RW: Livingston should start. As I said before, Livingston has a huge size advantage and did a fine job guarding LeBron during the regular season. That being said, Kidd likes to stick with what's working despite the matchups pointing to the contrary.
BF: I think they should keep Anderson in the starting lineup. Livingston has had an incredible season and played well against the Heat, but I feel that Anderson gives the Nets more flexibility on offense and more specifically, his success from three point range will be very important for Brooklyn if they want to pull off the upset. I think Livingston will get more minutes than Anderson due to the size he provides against LeBron and Wade, but to start the game, I think Kidd would be best served going to Anderson.
AP: Yes. I think Anderson played fantastic against the Raptors, but Livingston was a huge reason to why the Nets beat the Heat four times. If Livingston starts at the SG as we are accustomed to, that forces the 6'4" Dwyane Wade to cover the 6'7" Livingston.
DH: Yes I would put Livingston back in the starting lineup because I love his length and ability to defend on the perimeter against this team. S Dot can be very valuable in this series as he can help defend in pick and roll situations and make life very difficult for Miami's perimeter players.
LF: The size difference between Livingston and Anderson is one inch. Livingston certainly had some of his best games of the season against Miami, especially in the double overtime thriller. That being said, the playoffs are a more live in the moment type of animal. Anderson's had an even plus-minus rating and the fact that the Raptors shot 41.3 percent when he was on the court in the final two games might play a role. The one thing where Anderson differs is perimeter shooting ability, meaning that opponents have to respect his ability from there and not spend time doubling others but you certainly wouldn't be wrong re-inserting Livingston back into the starting lineup.
G: Sure. Anderson was in there to guard DeRozan. If there is someone else who needs to start for whatever reason, I'm sure Kidd will change the lineup to meet the needs of the team.
NI: Sorry. Heat in six. They're on a mission. But if Nets do win, I expect a visit to Finals.
TL: I hate this question! Man, I really, really want to say the Nets will win this series. And I do think they have a shot at topping the Heat, but, I mean, the Heat are the two-time defending champs...Man, I'm going to say Nets in 7. How about that? (But my head says Heat in 7...so, I don't even know!).
RW: I'd like to say the Nets, but LeBron is a different animal in the playoffs. Heat in 6. IF the Nets do find a way to win, they'll go to the Finals.
BF: Heat in five. Before the season began, I picked the Nets and Heat to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals with Miami winning in five. Nothing has really caused me to change my mind, so I'll stick with it. For what it's worth, I think most of the games will be tightly contested.
AP: Nets in 7. This Nets team was assembled to beat the Heat. Now it's their time to shine.
DH: This is a tough prediction for me. I have some really good vibes about the Nets focus after their last two wins and I want to pick them in this series. I think they are going to play some very inspired basketball against the Heat. I was leaning towards picking them in seven games and I think this definitely will go the distance. However, I don't see the Heat losing a Game 7 in their building and have to go with the Heat in 7( although I hope I am wrong so team Nets Daily can continue our great coverage into the Conference Finals and potentially beyond).
LF: Might as well make it interesting and go Nets in seven. A lot of positive things have to happen for that series victory to occur and the struggle to close things out in Game Three and Game Seven certainly are concerning, but also the fact that the Nets had enough poise to survive those near collapse might also help. All in all. I'd be stunned if this wasn't a long series.
G: Heat in 7.